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Tuesday, July 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Black Voters Sue Mississippi After Judge Dies

OXFORD, Miss. (CN) - In a federal class action, black voters say the Mississippi State Election Commission's decision to hold a write-in election after the death of a longtime Circuit Court judge violates the Voting Rights Act. "This case sadly revolves around Donald Duck among write-in candidates in the four-county districts of Covington, Jasper, Simpson and Smith Counties," the complaint states. Donald Duck does not reappear, nor is his presence explicitly explained. Apparently, the plaintiffs fear the duck may receive votes.

Judge Robert Evans was running unopposed for Circuit Court judge in the 13th District when he died after the qualifying deadline. The State Election Commission met and decided the election would be decided through a write-in.

But lead plaintiff Tucker claims this will violate the Voting Rights Act, as the state officials involved did not receive preclearance, which is necessary when there is a "change in standards, practices or procedures with respect to voting".

The plaintiffs claim the actions of the State Election Commission "were racially motivated". They say the state has a long history of intimidating and threatening black voters at polling stations: "the major problem with the whole scheme is whites telling blacks how to vote - whether in the form of denying voter assistance, challenging ballots, photo identification as a pre-condition to voting or just overall voter intimidation and suppression."

The plaintiffs add, "White supremacy cannot overrule the Constitution".

They cite several examples of discrimination against black voters, including "keeping black voters in lines unnecessarily for long periods," the "taking of black voters' ballots and displaying the same to persons for long periods of time before placing the same in the ballot box'" and "placing polling precincts at white private businesses that are know(n) to be hostile and discriminating toward blacks."

Other named plaintiffs include Arthur "Hotshot" Ankston, Curtis "Rerun" Jackson and Arrece Webb. They seek declaratory judgment that "the policies and procedures being challenged unlawfully dilute black voting strength and deny to plaintiffs and those similarly situated their rights."

They seek a temporary restraining order, "if for no other reason except to bring the parties together and to determine what is taking place."

The plaintiffs are represented by Alvin O. Chambliss of Oxford, Miss.

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